Sincere Demonic Wisdom(James)

James 3:13-18 ESV Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. (14) But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. (15) This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. (16) For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (17) But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. (18) And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

I had a friend who was so puffed up with pride that it was annoying. What was worse, is that like me, this man had been called to gospel ministry. It drove me crazy that someone so prideful could attempt gospel ministry. Didn’t he know that he should be humble? Another lowly friend and I wanted to help my prideful friend off his high horse and bring him back to his senses. We met and discussed how to bring our prideful friend down to earth.

We thought we knew what to do, but as pious as we were, we wanted to check all the boxes on what we should do. We realized in our frenzied discussion of our friends pride that we hadn’t prayed for him. So we prayed for him and his pride. Then we realized that we hadn’t stopped to pray for ourselves and confess our own sins. So we began to confess our sins and somewhere in the confession something broke lose (James 5:16). Our prayers for our own sins became more fervent as our eyes were open to more and more sin issues in our lives. We soon came to the issue of pride and the Holy Spirit made it clear that the issue of pride we had seen in our brother was actually an issue of jealousy and pride in our own hearts. We came to tears and eventually came to our brother to confess our wrong.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. I learned that sometimes bitterness, jealousy, and pride in my own heart can cause me color how I see the motives of others. If I’m not careful, I’ll think I’m on a righteous crusade to set a brother straight, when what is really at work in my heart is sinful, disgusting, and demonic. I can be sincere, thinking I’m doing the Lord’s work, but actually be working against Him.

James reminds us today that there are two types of wisdom. They produce two different fruits. We should examine our hearts to see if we genuinely want to build others up in the faith or tear them down. The one so jealous for the “truth” that he wants to tear others down might be fighting for the wrong team.

Father, thank you for your Word. Thank you for brothers and sisters to whom we can confess our sins and who will pray for us. Thank you for direction on checking our hearts. It is so easy to operate in the world as the world operates. We need your accountability and grace every day. Let us be peacemakers filled with godly wisdom today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


2020 Post on James

Expositional Devotions through James

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

Day 77: James (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from James follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

I am so glad that we are reading though James today. I needed to be reminded of James 1:2-5! We are certainly experiencing trials of various kinds. Virus trials, reaction trials, big trials, small trials, people trials, technology trials, all types of trials… I am grateful that the LORD is in control. I am also glad that we can ask Him for wisdom. We need wisdom especially today as we deal with things we have never dealt with before.

We are also reminded to bridle our tongue (1:26). Opinions abound about how to react to this virus, if the virus is real, how bad the virus is, who is or is not taking the virus seriously, etc. We can and should exercise self control over our speech about others and our fears.  Our discourse should be civil.

I have to admit that James 4:13-15 jumped out today. If ever there were a time when all of our plans have changed it is this one.

Finally, James 5:16-18 remind us to confess our sins and pray. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (5:16).  Let’s pray today against the spread of this virus, against fear, and for our communities.

FATHER, Help us to count it all joy in the midst of these trials. We ask for wisdom and discernment in making day to day choices. I ask that you would guide our steps and direct our path. We confess that we cannot predict the future and make certain our plans. Show us how to love our neighbors in the midst of crisis. We ask for you to spare our communities from the spread of this virus. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

A Little Extra: Have you ever considered that sometimes what we call wisdom may end up being demonic (3:5)?  Not that I’m saying God is against smarts… Just the opposite, we are to have a renewed mind. But that sometimes the lines we sell ourselves are actually just lies from the pit of Hell. Like when someone says that they’d be happier if they were divorced and were back on the dating scene… not Godly wisdom!!! That’s a lie meant to wreck you.

A little dope won’t make you feel better in the long run. Alcohol doesn’t really numb the emotional pain, sir, your getting drunk maybe what is causing all the pain (for you and for others). And a little slice of chocolate cake for dessert with enough frequency will kill you just as dead as those cigarettes will.

Worldly wisdom, demonic wisdom is persuasive, but it isn’t really wisdom. It’s a lie dressed up as the truth and sold in the package of “looking out for number one,” or “it will make me “feel” better.” Don’t buy it. Get your wisdom from God… Submit to God, Resist the Devil… and He will flee from you.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here


James 5:19-20 (Devotional Thought)

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My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20 ESV)

My family loves to go hiking. Since we really don’t have any mountains to hike around Pensacola we do the next best thing, we go for a walk through the woods. One time we were walking through the woods and I stopped abruptly. My three-year-old wanted to keep on trekking and started to go around me and I snatched him back and held him close to me and said, “Wait! Do you see that stick there in the middle of the path?” The stick was actually a snake and I had prevented him from stepping on it. Thankfully that particular snake wasn’t poisonous, but my son did learn a valuable lesson. Look out for snakes!

James says that when we bring someone back from wandering that we cover over a multitude of sin. The sin being talked about here is the sin of the person who has wandered. When I reached out and pulled my son back from the path I kept him from being bit by a snake. When we reach out to those who are wandering from the faith we are keeping them from hurtful behavior that can hurt themselves or others.

When I was younger I was angry about some things that people had done to our family and I responded by hanging out with the wrong crowd and drinking. When my dad became aware of my alcohol abuse he confronted me about it. I repented and haven’t been drunk since. My dad knew all about alcohol because his dad was an alcoholic. I was already showing the classic signs of being an alcoholic by drinking alone, etc. I am confident that my dad’s intervention changed the course of my life for the better and in the end covered over a multitude of sins.

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James 5:13-18 (Devotional Thought) – Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (James 5:13-18 ESV)

I bet you didn’t know that I’m an award winning actor. Well actually the award was from the Missouri district 5 acting competition for high schools… But I got first place, name in the paper and everything. Initially I was afraid to act. I had this weird thought that everyone else at the competition was going to be better. I thought they had all been acting since birth and that as an 11th grader I was late to the game. I really only signed up for the acting class because I thought it would be fun (that was before I realized that you had to memorize your lines). But then my friend Ian and I actually won the duo-acting part of the competition. I went on to star in high school plays, church dramas, and even wrote the script for a church musical before I finally retired from acting.

James says that prayer can be like that. It can be intimidating at first. You can think of all kinds of people who might be better at prayer than you and so you don’t bother, but James reminds us that even the really famous prophet Elijah was human. Elijah had prayed for the rain to stop and it stopped raining for three years! Effective prayer really only requires one thing… a heart submitted to God and ready to be used by him. – Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices

James 5:12 (Devotional Thought)

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But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. (James 5:12 ESV)

Have you ever made a promise while crossing your fingers or made an oath to a friend and said, “cross my heart and hope to die”? Those are things I used to do as a little kid. You would cross your fingers when you knew you were going to break your promise (somehow that made it okay to do) and you swore on your life (that’s crossing your heart and hoping to die) when you wanted someone to believe your promise.

People swear or “promise” based on something. They might say, “I swear as sure as I’m standing here” or “I swear on my momma’s grave.” While those are weird things to swear by they reveal something about the person who is swearing…. They normally lie. If people won’t believe what you say, it’s probably because you crossed your fingers one too many times and they are reluctant to trust you. James says that you are not to swear or promise by anything, rather just speak the truth.

Lying is what we do when we don’t trust God. Swearing is what we do when we’ve lied so many times that people won’t believe us… James reminds us not to cross our fingers or swear by anything because someone who trusts God has no reason to lie.

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James 5:7-11 (Devotional Thought)

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Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:7-11 ESV)

I hate waiting but sometimes I’ll go stand in line to wait just to get into some fancy place to eat. Then I’ll order something off the menu and sit around and wait for my food to be delivered. Most of the time the end product is worth the wait. But what if I didn’t understand that good food takes time to prepare and so I bad mouthed the chef the whole time we waited? They would be back in the kitchen slaving away to present an awesome meal and I would be out front thinking that they had it in for me and they hated me for making me wait.

James says that part of being a Christian is waiting for God to deliver on his promises. We know that God will deliver, but sometimes it seems like we are waiting a long time. James reminds us that God’s timing is always perfect and has a purpose. When we have patience we are demonstrating that we trust God to deliver us and that he is still as merciful and compassionate as he has ever been.

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James 5:1-6 (Devotional Thought)

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
(James 5:1-6 ESV)

I heard the story once of a weary traveler who came upon a fairy glen. The glen was filled with all sorts of gold and treasures. He was told by the fairy king that he could take all that would fit in his pocket and so throughout the night the man madly filled his pockets and attempted to find ways to fit more and more gold into them. Then at the moment of dawn all the gold the man had filled his pockets with turned to straw and all he could hear was the fairies laughing at him.

James writes a lot about rich and poor people. In his day most rich people became rich by taking advantage of poor people. James reminds us that there is a greater treasure than gold and while some people spend countless hours and effort to make lots of money that at the end of the day gold is worthless because it can’t save you and what’s even more tragic for the unrighteous rich is that we will all answer to God for how we have mistreated others. Like the man who filled his pockets with gold only to find out it was straw, those who value money over people will one day soon wake up to see all their efforts have been wasted.

James 4:13-17 (Devotional Thought)

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Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”– yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:13-17 ESV)

I had the benefit of getting my master’s degree a few years ago. I was in my early thirties and as old as some of the younger professors at the school, so for a joke one time I walked into a class on the first day and began to act just like I was the professor. I said things like, “Ok everyone get out your text books for the course.” The charade lasted only a few minutes before the real professor came in and the joke was up. Everyone soon recognized that I was a student just like them.

Sometimes we like to pretend that we know more than we do. I was pretending to be a teacher, but I was really there to learn. Sometimes we pretend to be like God and make plans as if we know everything that will happen. The truth is we don’t. We don’t even know what the next moment will truly hold. Only God does. James writes and reminds us to submit everything to God, even how we speak needs to be seasoned with an honest submission to God’s authority. We can say, “This is my plan and I think it’s good, but only God truly knows what will happen.” By approaching our life and plans like this we are recognizing the Lordship of God in everything we do.

James 4:11-12 (Devotional Thought)

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:11-12 ESV)

I used to play flag–football on Sunday afternoons. Our team got really good and we started a league so we could play other teams. We started out just calling the rules ourselves like if we stepped out of bounds we would call it or if we stopped short of a touchdown we would call it. But we soon learned that this wasn’t the best way to oversee a game. Generally both teams had a difference of opinion on every call. Someone would say we stepped out, but we were sure we remained in. Someone would say that they grabbed our flag before we crossed the goal line and it went on and on.

That’s the way it is in life sometimes. We look for the mistakes of others while hoping that our own mistakes go unnoticed. We are quick to talk about a friend who stabbed us in the back by gossiping about us, but we don’t realize that we are guilty of the very same sin when we talk about them. James reminds us that we are responsible to honor God, not pick on others who have fallen short. God will judge them fairly and He doesn’t need your help. Everyone will pay for their sin in one of two ways. They will face eternal destruction in Hell or they will embrace forgiveness in Christ. Either way, who are we to condemn someone that Christ has forgiven or who will face God’s wrath?

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James 4:1-10 (Devotional Thought)

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:1-10 ESV)

Have I ever told you about the time that I almost scored for the opposing team? It’s pretty embarrassing. I was in middle school and I was playing church league basketball. Because it was church league there was a very broad age range and so there were lots of guys better than me. But also because it was church league I got to play at least two minutes every quarter. So they put me in just after the half and I get the ball and start dribbling towards a wide open goal. There is no one in my way. I hear the other team yelling, “Stop him! Stop him! He’s going to score!” What I didn’t realize was that it was my own teammates yelling out. You see we had switched goals at the half. The goal I was headed towards was now our opponents goal. The sad part is that I actually shot the ball and missed before I realized that I was headed the wrong way. I was more concerned with making a goal than playing with my team. I’ve never been so happy to miss a goal in my life!

You know we fall into trouble when we focus on ourselves rather than focusing on God. The author of James reminds us that when we focus on ourselves we miss God. The good news is that if you catch yourself being selfish all you need to do is repent, return to God and he will give you a fresh start.

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